Less is more for director Clint Eastwood, who believes his well-known preference for first takes yields fresher perfs from his actors.
“With Clint, 99% of the shots that wind up in the film are first shots,” says Tom Stern, Eastwood’s longtime cinematographer who worked on “Million Dollar Baby.”
Stern estimates he shot just over 230,000 feet of film for the entire pic. That’s less than 10% of the 3 million feet James. L. Brooks shot for “Spanglish,” which was produced by Sony at a cost of $80 million.
Eastwood’s technique has the fortunate side effect of yielding inexpensive movies — “Million Dollar Baby,” in which Eastwood also stars, came in at around $20 million.
Despite that price and Eastwood’s enviable track record — which includes helmer nods last year from the DGA and Oscar for “Mystic River” — he had a hard time finding anyone to back the intense “Baby.”
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Even Warner Bros., Eastwood’s home studio for three decades, initially balked — just like it had on “Mystic River.” That film cost $25 million to make and so far has taken in $90 million domestically and $67 million abroad.
Warner eventually agreed to fund “Baby” but sold off the foreign rights to Lakeshore Entertainment.
The film garnered seven Oscar noms last week; Eastwood was tapped for director and lead actor.